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UDOT unveils $5 million wildlife bridge over I-80 in Parleys Canyon

Posted at 11:21 AM, Dec 13, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-13 13:25:06-05

PARLEYS CANYON -- Construction is complete on a wildlife overpass on I-80 in Parleys Canyon, bringing an end to one of the Utah Department of Transportation's largest projects.

The bridge stretches above six lanes of I-80 and is 320 feet long and 50 feet wide.

The overpass bridge was designed to keep wildlife off the interstate, which will make things safer for all animals traveling through the canyon.

UDOT officials said there have been about 100 wildlife collisions reported in the area in the last two years, and they suspect there may be as many as four times that number that go unreported.

UDOT has been working with the Division of Wildlife Resources on the project, and they will install cameras in the vicinity so they can monitor how animals are using the bridge.

John Gleason, a UDOT spokesman, said they've taken steps to make sure animals in the area use the new structure.

"Well the animals won't have a lot of other options because there is six miles of fencing that are directing them strictly to this spot: This is it right here," he said. "Even if they don't instinctively know that they have to cross here, there's not a lot of other options within six miles."

The project began in April and has a price tag of about $5 million. The work closed the freeway overnight for several nights earlier this year.

Utah is home to one other wildlife overpass, but the new one in Parleys Canyon is much larger.

Thursday's unveiling is anticipated to be the only time humans are allowed on the overpass. Experts ask anyone who may be hiking or hunting in the area to stay off the bridge so wild animals aren't deterred from using the crossing.